Thursday, October 30, 2008

More pics and a little story






Hey guys!
Just wanted to put up a few pics from the last bbq on sunday. It was a ton of fun having Franklin's growth group out serving. They were a great group to work with!

On Monday Tyrone and I where on the deck working on a cabinet and one of the kiddo's from the apartments came and starting talking to us. This kiddo(David) is a good friend of ours now. He became known the day before as "Iron man", thanks to Tyrone and his creative ideas and love for kids. So, we got to talk for awhile then Tyrone and I went inside for some lunch and a few minutes later....knock knock knock......knock.....knock....knock. I'm sure you can guess who was at our door. That's right, david and two of his amigos. We had to stop them from running into the apartment. They were like scouts who had found the gold. We gave them cookies and pastries and sent them on their way. We hope this won't be the last chance to connect outside of the bbq's but if so it will leave a smile on my face every time I remember it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Better than a magic carpet ride!

Okay, maybe I shouldn't admit this but I love the scene in Aladdin about a magic carpet ride. Just the magic and beauty of the moments riding a carpet and seeing the world from a new perspective.
It's a poor comparison, but maybe you'll get the picture of what I've seen God doing here in Rockwood. For me it has been a new world full of unbelievable things. When God wants to do something great watch out! God has continued to open so many doors for me and for the team. I was at Starbucks and met a gal from the Salvation Army in Rockwood . She had heard me mention that I had just moved to Rockwood to minster and we started talking and it was clear God had set that time for both of us to be there. In searching for a job, God has opened doors that don't make sense except for it being by His power. I can truely tell people that this is the best time of my life. And things have only just begun. I'm also reminded that now more than ever is the time to put on he full armor of God, so that we can stand firm. I ask that you will be praying for strength as we battle the spiritual holds of the enemy and seek to bring the light of Christ to Rockwood and Barberry Village.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

True Fasting

As you might have deduced from a few of the pictures in the Serving Jesus, Rockwood Style post, we are working hard to make Barberry Apartments a launching pad for serving the larger community of Rockwood. There is 7-Eleven on the corner that could use some loving just about weekly, as well as a few other sourrouding buisnesses that we can be a blessing to. If you are at all curious about the deeper impact that simple garbage pick can have, check out the wikipedia entry on "Fixing Broken Windows". Essentially:
"Consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars."
There is also a bi-weekly mini Nightstrike-esque site that sets up on Saturday nights on the corner of 188th and Burnside which we are hoping to be a support to. More to come on this.

On another note, Elena reminded me of a portion of Scripture that has really shaped me over the last 9 months. It seems very appropriate to share it here. Isaiah outlines what "authentic Christian living" looks like. It also consequently has some of the most beautiful imagery on the relationship God yearns to have with each of us.

Isaiah 58

1 "Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the house of Jacob their sins.

2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.

3 'Why have we fasted,' they say,
'and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?'
"Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.

4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?

6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD's holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Characters

It’s been two weeks since I moved into this new stage of my life. This is a stage without T.V, a stage with purposeful relationships, a stage of willful submission to the more capable, more deserving, more knowledgeable, more worthy I AM. On this new stage there are new characters, and old ones. The new include my new roommates. Indeed, I hadn’t known any of them except David before moving in here.

There’s Josh, who I met once at an event called Nightstrike, which is a starting point of what we hope to do here. Josh is older than me by a few years and has been raised in the church. Like most people raised in “the church” he has felt an ever growing desire to actually be the Church, rather than make it a once, maybe twice weekly event. Josh is ever quick to pray, an attribute I hope to glean from him, and always a source of wisdom when approached with questions. Luckily for me, he has an excellent sense of humor. (I fear living with someone who doesn’t) He is always looking for ways to further his knowledge of different things, and I’m convinced it is solely for the purpose of furthering God’s kingdom and His glory in him. Josh walks with the gait of an epic baseball player. He told me he used to play catcher. I don’t doubt it. If I was at third and contemplating stealing home, I would think twice seeing him in armor behind the plate. Although he has an intimidating stature and a strong jaw, he is ever the servant and volunteers himself frequently to do something to better our living situation.

Sean. Sean is a person I can easily admire. At this point I’m sure what kind of past he comes from, but I know that it was rougher than my own. Yet, he has emerged from it with firm beliefs and strong determination that drives him to live a life in humble submission to God. His demeanor, at times, reminds me of what Jacob must have been like after wrestling with God, a knowledge of contending with the Lord of creation, and although loosing, in the end getting what he wanted. He has as much hair on his face as he does on his head, perhaps more, and seems like he should be wearing ox-hide leather rather than cotton and denim. His six-year old son, Riley is just as ferocious as his father looks. With his red hair flashing Riley frequently head-butts me in the stomach. I don’t even think the child knows my name yet. Like most children he doesn’t have social boundaries, this is something that I know I can learn from. To be less afraid of doing something unheard of and more concerned with doing what God has made me to do, to bring Him glory and work out His will rather than my own. I think much can be learned about the father through his son. (Jesus and God are good examples of this). Although Riley is much like Mogli from the Jungle Book, he is ever submissive to his father. In these two weeks here I haven’t heard Sean raise his voice at Riley, or even need to ask him something more than twice. There is a condition for a man to be a deacon in a church that I’ve always found interesting, and that is that the man must have well behaved children. Sean is always understanding to Riley and quick to love him, a trait I hope to glean from him.

David. David used to run cross-country in high school, and he liked it! I have to respect anyone who runs cross-country and likes it, because it means that they know perseverance, struggle and over coming their own bodies, their own desire to give up. David embodies this easily. He has a driving personality that constantly pushes him to continue when others are too weary or unwilling. David has demonstrated this attribute in all areas of his life, in school: where he is always studying and doing homework (something I personally despise, but I wish I did) in Church: where is always scheming something that can bring more people to God, in his relationship with God: where is always reading about and coming up with new revelations about our Father, and with his ministry: where is ever vigilant to communicate and organize and direct people to be most effective in this world. It seems he has the best of two worlds, where he finds study and theorizing enjoyable and he revels in sport and is good at athletic events. From the first time he and I talked, I took an instant liking to him. He’s a person of action, who gets things done, although at times skipping details. I’ve heard it said that busy people are the people that get things done, I think this saying was made because of David. Even with all that is going on his life and the things that he takes upon himself, he always has time to stop and talk. Relationships are important to him, and most important is the relationship that other people have or must have with our creator. If I can capture some of his drive to help others and apply it to my own life, I would be much better for it.
More characters to come.

Serving Jesus, Rockwood style

A few more pictures from the first bbq, led by Champion Church. It was a time of humble service and great fun, especially with the "jumper"! Thanks Champion Church!

Week 2





God is Faithful!
This weekend was another time of seeing God do great things here at the apartments. The college group from Good Shepherd came and helped us serve. We made spaghetti right in our kitchen and fed more this week then last. It started off slow, in fact I thought no one besides the kids would come out this time. Was I ever wrong. Over the course of a couple of hours, individuals trickled in. We were able to give away bags of food to some people and have great convos with others. It seems God is continuing to open the doors at Barberry Village. Thanks for your prayers!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fertile Soil

Coming to Rockwood, I keep being amazed at the openness of the people. It seems as if the Lord has already prepared the ground here, and many are gasping for the fresh air the gospel brings. Initially, I was thinking this was going to be primarily a community building time, where there would be a lot of connecting to resources and meeting basic physical needs, but it is very clear that this place is in need for spiritual restoration, and many are ready for it. Case in point, at the first bbq, there were at least 2 women who said they've been wanting to go to church for a while, but have been either afraid or unsure where to go. There are also many who identify with the faith and were very open to discuss their affliation. I believe these next months will not only be great times of creating community, but also a time of meeting the greatest need of all, which is restoring faith. God was definitely preparing this place, tilling the ground, and He will continue to, we are simply part of who God will use to make the flowers grow. I have faith that God has amazing plans for this place and I am thankful for the clear signs He is giving. My prayer is that all of us serving in Rockwood will continue walking in humility and guidance of the spirit. I cannot help being excited to see where God is going to take this!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

photos ala bbq

These are mostly pictures of the pinata that we did in celebration for Rileys birthday. it went over really well with the kids and parents, and was great entertainment for all of us. it forced the adults to stand back and watch and talk.




BBQ Introduction

As Josh, Tyrone, and I were headed out to go shopping for furniture we heard a friendly man shout with a Spanish accent from across the parking lot "How'd the BBQ go!?". None of us remember seeing him there yesterday afternoon, but he recognized us, and he felt comfortable enough to ask us how it went. Our top priority for the first 3-6 months of making ourselves known - even vulnerable - and listening to the voices/stories of the community is off to a wonderful start.

And listen I did. Stories of "failed" efforts to help the community, paradoxical medical situations, tough relational and financial circumstances, and spiritual journey's burst forth from our neighbors. I remember more faces then I do names. Beautiful faces, with eager smiles appear when you lend an ear and your time.

We'll post pictures soon.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

what a weekend

A moment in life when you feel like you really can make a difference is something that is rare. Yet this weekend I experienced one of those times. Going out and inviting our neighbors turned into quite an exciting day! We decided to make some cookies to take to our closest neighbors, and as we began to bake them we realized our top burner was inop. You know how hard it is to bake eight dozen cookies with only a bottom element.! Well, we got them made and headed out. Immediately we were met by Josh a gentlemen who was moving out the same day. He decided he would introduce us to some of his friends and began running us door to door passing out the cookies we had made. we met a number of people because of his generosity. It's too bad he is gone already.
Through out the complex we received a variety of responses. Some couldn't believe we were having a BBQ others were surprised we actually lived in the apartments with them, and others were skeptical of what we where doing and whether it would make a difference. Overall, it was a great day and a great response! Thank you Jesus for opening doors!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

a calling.

Barberry village, a diverse and economically clinging to life community, nestled comfortably beside the booming metropolis of Portland, much like a starved mouse lying beside a strong and healthy, although a bit strange and sometimes hippie-ish, dog. The village consists of four wings of two-story buildings that have a light brownish hue reminding one of both dry, cracked sand and moist, freshly shaped clay. There is an office situated in the center of town complete with a community center and pool area, altogether forming the nucleus of the village. Three laundry stations are strategically located so the town’s tenants can easily reach one, and they are somewhat hidden half way under ground, giving those buildings a two and a half story illusion. There are shrubs and bushes of the sorts that grow easily in the northwest and boulders and strong standing trees wherever they can grow or sit without looking too crowded or too alone. The trees and stones speak of the area in which the village dwells, an area called Rockwood.

Rockwood has a reputation to many people, for being a dangerously poor neighborhood that is filled with violence, theft, and a culture as diverse as the fans at a Nickleback concert. Rockwood’s original residents were middle class Caucasian Americans who would commute to work in Portland. Over the last decade and more these “average” Americans moved further from Portland in hopes to escape the grime of the urban jungle. The area further east from Portland, Gresham was home to many Asian families who, after being bought out by the middle class Caucasians moved closer to Portland. With the large city of Portland growing larger, the African American culture living just on the rim of the east side of Portland were forced to migrate further east, landing them in Rockwood around the same time as the Asian culture. Within the same scope of time a large exodus of Hispanics seeking an area to call home took up many of the houses and apartments that the middle class Caucasians left behind. Various other cultures shifted in to the now low-income area while some of the more traditional Caucasians chose to bunker up in their homes. The result is a model of what America is, a melting pot of nearly every culture on earth.

It was because of this reputation that I now found myself taking residence in the village of Barberry. It all started when I decided to ask God what I should do. After a week of praying and fasting (sucked, but worth it) I felt God calling me to Portland. Once there I spent a year of trying to push my agenda on God, and in the last few months decided to let Him have His way. My friend David and I one day decided to dream over pizza and coffee about a priesthood of people, who would answer the question that the people of earth have been asking since Jesus left us, “God, where are you?” With all the poverty and sickness and hate that is now, just another part of life, swirling around our everyday habitat, how can there be a God who is, by His own definition, against those things? The answer is, us. God’s people. Christians are sanctioned by Jesus as His “holy priesthood” and as such we are now God’s hand in this world. Once I understood that, life becomes an answer. The way I live, the goals I strive for, the people that I saw as annoyances or some kind of new reality show become people worth sacrificing my entire world for. So over pizza and coffee David offered a proposal of something I knew needed to happen. We talked about a new way of living and going to church. A fusing of life at home and life in the brick building we attend every Sunday.

I just finished moving the last of my things into the 117th apartment of the village. I see people who are, not depressed, but not living joyfully either. People who carry burdens that they know and I know, they can’t possible carry alone. What are those burdens? I can’t begin to understand them. For now I must be content listening to them speak. Guarded words at first, but maybe later, when they can know that I’m not here to hurt them, maybe then they can allow me to try to show them God’s love, God’s desire to save them. Save them not from hell, although I don’t believe God would want anyone in that accursed pit, but to save them from the daily hell that everyone, who doesn’t have the Holy Spirit to shoulder they’re pain for them, trudges through. We planned our first lunch to get know the people of the village. Using priests from Champion, a local Rockwood church for running and supplying the luncheon. It goes down tomorrow. I plan to ask my Lord to ready the hearts of all of us.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Rockwood/188th MAX Stop Reflections

I was standing at the Rockwood/188th MAX stop right in front of my apartment. I missed my train and had some time to spend in thought. I found myself caught in a daze at the whirl of cars driving down Burnside on either side of me when everything stopped. I looked down the row of cars stopped at the light, briefly making eye contact with few while others looked firmly at the bumper in front of them.

Then the reality of my position came tumbling over me.

I'm standing on the Rockwood MAX stop.

How many times had I driven by that stop with fear rising up, blame being served, pity forming, judgement heaped, racism boiling. Now I stand as part of the community. I stand, waiting for the train, as an individual recieving the scorn I had so often hurled.

But I stand not out of guilt for my past actions. This is worth taking the time to define. Guilt shirvels under pressure, retreats to safety when confronted. To live by guilt is to live today in submission to the sins of the past that first placed you in bondage.

I stand on the foundation of God's grace. Liberating me from a life of bondage to my self. Redeeming my brokeness. God's love that touched my soul and gave me life is why I stand on the Rockwood MAX stop.

Yet another confirmation of why, as my dear friend Elena puts it, "serving Rockwood the Rockwood way is the right way."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Transition

Alright this is my first time blogging! I am looking forward to communicating what is going on in my life through this.
This is my first experience in a lot of things, first time living with room mates, first time living in a city, first time being in a place were you have to worry about doors being locked and cars being safe. And let me tell you I am excited to see God stretch me and change me in however he can!
I challenge anyone who reads this to try something out of the norm, and ask God to stretch you. It may be awkward but it will be a great experience in the end.

Dying to self,
josh